Bits and Pieces: New Biographies in the Collection

We’re chock full of new biographies and memoirs in the collection this month.  Way too many to share here in a blog post, but we’ll give you a selection to get you started.  Be sure to go and look at What’s New in the collection, where you can use the filters to select the genre or subject you’re most interested in.  Take a look at these…

Bits and pieces : my mother, my brother, and me / Goldberg, Whoopi
“From multi-award winner Whoopi Goldberg comes a new and unique memoir of her family and their influence on her early life. If it weren’t for Emma Johnson, Caryn Johnson would have never become Whoopi Goldberg. Emma raised her children not just to survive, but to thrive. In this intimate and heartfelt memoir, Whoopi shares many of the deeply personal stories of their lives together for the first time. To this day, she doesn’t know how her mother was able to give them such an enriching childhood, despite the struggles they faced–and it wasn’t until she was well into adulthood that Whoopi learned just how traumatic some of those struggles were.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

How to avoid a happy life : a memoir / Lawrinson, Julia
“From domestic dysfunction to extraordinary bad luck, Julia Lawrinson reflects on her intriguing and eventful life with disarming honesty and wit. Some people are born into bad situations, some people have bad situations thrust upon them, and some people find bad situations through their dodgy choices, lack of information and personal idiosyncrasies. Julia’s life sits at the intersection of all three.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The rulebreaker : the life and times of Barbara Walters / Page, Susan
“Barbara Walters was a force from the time TV was exploding on the American scene in the 1960s to its waning dominance in a new world of competition from streaming services and social media half a century later. This is the eye-opening account of the woman who knew she had to break all the rules so she could break all the rules about what viewers deserved to know.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Hine Toa : a story of bravery / Te Awekōtuku, Ngāhuia
“In this fiery memoir about identity and belonging, Ngāhuia te Awekōtuku describes what was possible for a restless working-class girl from the pā. After moving to Auckland for university, Ngāhuia advocates resistance as a founding member of Ngā Tamatoa and the Women’s and Gay Liberation movements, becoming a critical voice in protests from Waitangi to the streets of Wellington.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

First things : a memoir / Ricketts, Harry
“In First Things, Harry Ricketts chronicles his early life through the lens of ‘ firsts’: those moments that can hold their detail and potency across a lifetime. Set mostly in Hong Kong and Oxford, these bright fragments include the places, people, writers, encounters and obsessions that have shaped Ricketts’ world, from his first friends and rivals to his first time being caned by a teacher and his first time dropping acid. In First Things, the gaps in between shine as brightly as the memories themselves.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Writers who changed history
“Explore the fascinating lives and loves of the greatest novelists, poets, and playwrights. Lavishly illustrated with photographs and paintings of writers’ homes, studies, and personal artifacts—along with pages from original manuscripts, first editions, and their correspondence—Writers Who Changed History introduces the key ideas, themes, and literary techniques of each writer, revealing the imaginations and personalities behind some of the world’s greatest novels, short stories, poems, and plays. Covering an eclectic range of authors from the Middle Ages to the present day, Writers Who Changed History provides a compelling glimpse of the lives and loves of each great writer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nothing significant to report : the misadventures of a kiwi soldier / Nustrini, Dario
“Laugh-out-loud yarns from a soldier in the New Zealand Army. Nothing Significant to Report is the brilliantly entertaining and unvarnished truth of what life is like in the New Zealand Army. From back-breaking exercises designed to make recruits spit the dummy to roleplaying in an SAS manhunt and accidentally starting a rubbish fire in a military compound, these are self-deprecating tales of misfits, mischief and camaraderie.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Across mountains, land & sea / Azadi, Arman
“Arman’s just a boy when he’s forced to leave his home and embark on an incredible journey. Separated from family and friends, he travels across mountains, land and sea to find refuge. Encountering bandits, war and wolves, and surviving a hazardous boat crossing, he arrives at Dover, clinging to the underside of a lorry. His journey had just begun.” (Catalogue)

 

The whole staggering mystery : a story of fathers lost and found / Brownrigg, Sylvia
“When Sylvia Brownrigg received a package addressed to her father that had been lost for over fifty years, she wanted to deliver it to him before it was too late. She did not expect that her father, Nick, would choose not to open it, so she and her brother finally did. Vividly weaving together the lives of her father and grandfather, through memory and imagination, Brownrigg explores issues of sexuality and silences, and childhoods fractured by divorce. In her uncovering of this lost family, she finally makes her own story whole.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Missing persons : or, My grandmother’s secrets / Wills, Clair
When Clair Wills was in her twenties, she discovered she had a cousin she had never met. Born in a mother-and-baby home in 1950s Ireland, Mary grew up in an institution not far from the farm where Clair spent happy childhood summers. Yet Clair was never told of Mary’s existence. How could a whole family–a whole country–abandon unmarried mothers and their children, erasing them from history? There are some experiences that do not want to be remembered. What began as an effort to piece together the facts became an act of decoding the most unreliable of evidence–stories, secrets, silences.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For more new books in the collection, go to: What’s new / June 2024 (wcl.govt.nz)

One of Them – New Biographies and Memoirs in the Collection

It’s a new month and that means a bunch of new biographies and memoirs hitting the shelves.  We’ve got a real mixed bag of goodies for you to dive in to, here are just some of them for you to check out:

One of them / Lal, Shaneel
“What would you do if you were told by the people you loved the most that the way you were born was evil and wrong? For Shaneel Lal, this was their reality from the time they were five. Growing up in a tiny, traditional village in Fiji, Shaneel always knew they were different. After escaping Fiji and moving to New Zealand as a teenager, Shaneel tried to keep their sexuality – and gender – to themself, but gradually found the courage to come out. One day, while Shaneel was volunteering at Auckland’s Middlemore hospital, a church leader came up to them and offered to ‘pray the gay away’. It was a lightbulb moment for Shaneel, who could not believe that the same practices that had scarred their childhood in Fiji were operating – and legal – in New Zealand. Determined to ensure others wouldn’t have to go through what happened to them, Shaneel founded the Conversion Therapy Action Group, which lead the movement to ban conversion therapy in Aotearoa.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Because our fathers lied : a memoir of truth and family, from Vietnam to today / McNamara, Craig
“Craig McNamara came of age during the political tumult and upheaval of the late ’60s. While he would grow up to take part in antiwar demonstrations, his father, Robert McNamara, served as John F. Kennedy’s secretary of defense and was the architect of the Vietnam War. This searching and revealing memoir offers an intimate portrait of one father and son at pivotal periods in American history. Because Our Fathers Lied is more than a family story–it is a story about America.  Because our fathers lied tells the story of the war from the perspective of a single, unforgettable American family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

bell hooks : the last interview and other conversations / hooks, bell
“bell hooks was a prolific, trailblazing author, feminist, social activist, cultural critic, and professor. Born Gloria Jean Watkins, bell used her pen name to center attention on her ideas and to honor her courageous great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. hooks’s unflinching dedication to her work carved deep grooves for the feminist and anti-racist movements. In this collection of 7 interviews, stretching from early in her career until her last interview, she discusses feminism, the complexity of rap music and masculinity, her relationship to Buddhism, the “politic of domination,” sexuality, and love and the importance of communication across cultural borders.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “One of Them – New Biographies and Memoirs in the Collection”

Phenomenal Women – Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023

It’s International Women’s Day and while we like to celebrate the achievements and lives of women every day, it’s good to stop and highlight the outstanding women of the world on this special day every year.  We’ve put together this list of recent titles showcasing books by and about phenomenal women.

Hilma af Klint : a biography / Voss, Julia
“The Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was 44 years old when she broke with the academic tradition in which she had been trained. While her naturalistic landscapes and botanicals were shown during her lifetime, her body of radical, abstract works never received the same attention. Today, it is widely accepted that af Klint produced the earliest abstract paintings by a trained European artist. But this is only part of her story.  Inspired by her first encounter with the artist’s work in 2008, Julia Voss set out to learn Swedish and research af Klint’s life-not only who the artist was but what drove and inspired her. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

README.txt : a memoir / Manning, Chelsea
“While working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq for the United States Army in 2010, Chelsea Manning disclosed more than seven hundred thousand classified military and diplomatic records that she had smuggled out of the country on the memory card of her digital camera. In 2011 she was charged with twenty-two counts related to the unauthorized possession and distribution of classified military records, and in 2013 she was sentenced to thirty-five years in military prison. This powerful, observant memoir will stand as one of the definitive testaments of our digital, information-driven age.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The light we carry : overcoming in uncertain times / Obama, Michelle
“Mrs. Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Elizabeth Taylor : the grit & glamour of an icon / Brower, Kate Andersen
“No celebrity rivals Elizabeth Taylor’s glamour and guts or her level of fame. She was the last major star to come out of the old Hollywood studio system and she is a legend known for her beauty and her magnetic screen presence in a career that spanned most of the twentieth century and nearly sixty films. Here is a fascinating and complete portrait worthy of the legendary star and her legacy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nuku : stories of 100 indigenous women / Matata-Sipu, Qiane
“The power of storytelling is evident in our earliest pūrākau. Stories can change the world. It is how our tūpuna passed on their knowledge, the blueprint for living well, for generations. Through telling their stories, the women in this book seek to influence the world around them. The youngest is 14 and the eldest is in her mid-70s. They are wāhine Māori, Moriori, Pasifika, Melanesian, Wijadjuri, Himalayan and Mexican.” (Catalogue)

Listen, world! : how the intrepid Elsie Robinson became America’s most-read woman / Scheeres, Julia
“At a time when it was thought that a woman’s highest calling was to become a wife and mother, Elsie hungered for a different kind of life. She dreamed of becoming a professional writer and sacrificed everything in pursuit of a career in letters, going so far as to work a California gold mine to pay the bills. Through it all, she wrote-everything from features to essays to fiction. Told with drama and cinematic detail by bestselling author Julia Scheeres and award-winning journalist Allison Gilbert, Listen, World! is the first biography of this indefatigable woman, capturing what it means to take a gamble on happiness, stumble a few times, and ultimately land on your feet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Running up that hill : 50 visions of Kate Bush / Doyle, Tom
“Comprising fifty chapters or ‘visions’, Running Up That Hill is a multi-faceted biography of Kate Bush, viewing her life and work from fresh and illuminating angles. Featuring details from the author’s one-to-one conversations with Kate, as well as vignettes of her key songs, albums, videos and concerts, this portrait introduces the reader to the refreshingly real Kate Bush. Along the way, the narrative also includes vivid reconstructions of transformative moments in her career and insights from the friends and collaborators closest to Kate, including her photographer brother John Carder Bush and fellow artists David Gilmour, John Lydon and Youth.” (Catalogue)

Angela Davis : an autobiography / Davis, Angela Y
“Edited by Toni Morrison and first published in 1974, An Autobiography is a classic of the Black Power era which resonates just as powerfully today. Long hard to find, it is reissued now with a new introduction by Davis, for a new audience inspired and galvanised by her ongoing activism and her extraordinary example. In the book, she describes her journey from a childhood on Dynamite Hill in Birmingham, Alabama, to one of the most significant political trials of the century- from her political activity in a New York high school to her work with the U.S. Communist Party, the Black Panther Party, and the Soledad Brothers; and from the faculty of the Philosophy Department at UCLA to the FBI’s list of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Told with warmth, brilliance, humour, and conviction, it is an unforgettable account of a life committed to radical change.” (Catalogue)

My dream time / Barty, Ash
“It’s a tennis story. It’s a family story. It’s a teamwork story. It’s the story of how I got to where and who I am today. We all have a professional and a personal self. How do you conquer nerves and anxiety? How do you deal with defeat, or pain? What drives you to succeed – and what happens when you do? The answers tell me so much, about bitter disappointments and also dreams realised – from injuries and obscurity and self-doubt to winning Wimbledon and ranking number 1 in the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

They called me a lioness : a Palestinian girl’s fight for freedom / Tamimi, Ahed
“What would you do if you grew up repeatedly seeing your home raided? Your parents arrested? Your mother shot? Your uncle killed? Try, if just for a moment, to imagine this was your life. How would you want the world to react?” It brings readers into the daily life of the young woman seen as a freedom-fighting hero by some and a naïve agitator by others. Beyond recounting her well-publicized interactions with Israeli soldiers, there is her unwavering commitment to family and her fearless command of her own voice, despite threats, intimidation, and even incarceration.” (Adapted Catalogue)

Ten steps to Nanette : a memoir situation / Gadsby, Hannah
“Hannah Gadsby’s unique standup special Nanette was a viral success–and to some, her worldwide fame may have seemed like an overnight sensation. But like everything else about Gadsby, there’s more to her success than meets the eye. In her first book, the queer Australian comedian, writer, and actress takes us through the key moments in her life that ultimately led to the creation of Nanette and her startling declaration that she was quitting comedy. She traces her growth as a gay woman from Tasmania–where homosexuality was illegal until 1997–to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette–the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral power of telling the truth.” (Catalogue)